Tuesday, 4 August 2015

How big is self-publishing?

I read an interesting article by  Philip Jones today entitled How big is self-publishing - the results. The link is:

with some additional links I plan to check out -

It's a long article, so I've encapsulated the main points to jog my own memory and perhaps  create interest in readers of this blog. If you are into self-publishing, read the whole thing!

The questions went to publishing houses. “What is your estimate for the market size of self-published e-books in the US by value in 2014?” brought figures between $1bn  to less than $50m as the answer.
US Self published books make up 5 percent of overall book sales. 80 percent digital, print 20 percent. People are reading 99.9% trad pub books and there is still a stigma to self-publishing.

The UK self-publishing market estimated figures between £10m and £150m

The conclusion to be drawn is that We won't know how big this market is until Amazon tells us.

"There are a few things I would conclude from this:"
1) "despite Amazon Publishing’s continued growth (primarily in genres, not general trade) and what appears to be the continued growth in self-publishing it has not really threatened the legacy publishing business. As long as the big authors don’t abandon the publishers, they’re safe. And as long as there is a complex demand chain for publishers to manage and service to pull in the revenue, they probably won’t.”

2) "The impact of self-publishing on traditional publishing looks to be over-hyped (at least on social media). What does matter to them is how the KDP has become a breeding and testing ground for new authors. They watch the charts like hawks, but not because they see KDP disrupting their world, but because it actively helps them expand their hegemony." (I found this remark very interesting. Jen)

3) "Self-publishing may still feel marginal in terms of overall business right now, but in certain genres it is already highly visible and highly influential. Most important, we are at the beginning of this: e-reading is in its infancy, as is self-publishing (as we know it today, and in contrast to vanity publishing which has been around for decades). Amazon has just redrawn how it will pay authors participating in its Kindle Unlimited subscription scheme. To be paid by page read is a revolution. A boon for serial writers, a nightmare for poets.
How we quantify this dark matter going forwards will be a key consideration not just for traditional publishers, retailers, investors and industry observers - but perhaps most important of all for writers. Authors will have tough decisions to take going forward, and are ill-served by the present data arrangements."

The great fear among traditional publishers is that their big name authors will take their business away.
On the Passive Guy website thriller writer Lee Child gave one of the most telling of comments: “Whichever numbers you choose to believe, e-reading gets a minority of eyeball time in a couple of major markets, and less than that in a handful of others. It’s a small fishbowl. Even with the spectacular 70% return, it’s a losing proposition for the one-percenters. So the disruptors have hard work ahead – they need to drag e-reading acceptance into an overwhelming global majority, without the one-percenters to help. If they manage it, then we’ll jump ship, probably.”

"Is that enough of a carrot to dangle in front of Amazon that will see the giant tech group release its e-book sales data? Is it a big enough hint to traditional publishers that what seems fixed now may not be forever? Time will tell."

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